One of the interesting things about offering services for novel editing in Geelong is how often the local landscape crops up in the fiction I read. While my clients come from different countries, it's a lovely surprise when I recognise place names and settings, sometimes even the odd historical figure from my town’s frontier past - because when clients get in touch, they don't always tell me where they're based! Offering novel editing in Victoria also draws writers from a state-wide landscape, which so far has included a psychopath in Apollo Bay, a 19th Century gold-miner from Ballarat, and a family historical saga set in pre-war Gippsland, to name only three.
Whatever the focus of a client’s novel, when I write a structural report, I split it into areas of relevance. These can include an assessment of genre, a closer look at characterisation, plot, layout, the ‘show don’t tell’ rule, and a host of other things. Often, it's punctuation (particularly of speech), the suggested addition of decent female characters (which I blogged about here), or changing point of view. Other details include the setting - the physical landscape, for example, can be important to an unfolding story. It can be so much more than simply a backdrop, because landscape can reflect or echo the characters’ states of mind, it can create suspense or a sense of foreboding, or it can be used literally to hide dead bodies. The popular phrase ‘write what you know’ is repeated for good reason… your familiar locale can make a surprisingly good setting.